HONOLULU — The Hawaii Department of Education is investigating its civil rights compliance director after complaints she conducted poor investigations and did campaign work on state time.
Hawaii News Now reported that department spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz confirmed the investigation of Susan Kitsu.
“To be fair to all parties, we are unable to comment on the investigation,” Dela Cruz said.
Kitsu declined comment to the television station. She is being represented by her union, the Hawaii Government Employees’ Association.
Civil rights attorney Eric Seitz said he believes Kitsu may be taking blame for institutional failings that have been going on a long time. The department has denied students mental health treatments and programs, he said.
This week, state lawmakers approved $190,000 in settlements for three children with mental disabilities who were mistreated at an elementary school. Seitz said the complaints were among 30 to 40 complaints he’s been involved with over the past three decades.
“In every single civil rights complaint that has been filed administratively, the DOE has refused to conduct a competent investigation or has whitewashed the situation,” Seitz said.
A campaign spokeswoman for state Sen. David Ige, who is challenging Gov. Neil Abercrombie in a Democratic primary in the Hawaii governor’s race, said Kitsu stepped down as deputy treasurer in February.
Ige said in a statement that Kitsu took leave when she stepped down.
“Unfortunately, since that time she has not been as involved, but does continue to volunteer,” Ige said.